Where National NBA pundits rank OKC Thunder in week 19

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the ball while being guarded by Steven Adams, Hamidou Diallo OKC Thunder (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the ball while being guarded by Steven Adams, Hamidou Diallo OKC Thunder (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Week 19 of the NBA Power Rankings finds pundits placing the OKC Thunder among the elite as teams fully enter the stretch run.

As teams enter the stretch run there are definitive tiers formed. The OKC Thunder are mired in the most interesting and complex with six teams who are all trying to land home court seeds.

The Bucks and Lakers sit fairly safely at the top of their respective conferences. Underneath those leaders are the aforementioned two – seven seeds in the West and all of them could land anywhere within that grouping. It does seem likely the Clippers won’t plummet but then other elite clubs are proving not to trust that hypothesis with many losing to lottery seeds in recent weeks.

The other compelling race in the West is for the right to play the Lakers as the Grizzlies continue to defy odds while the Kings, Blazers, Pelicans, and Spurs try to chase them down.

The East has four tiers with the Bucks alone followed by the Raptors and Celtics who have built some separation between themselves and the next tier. Those seeds – – four, five and six (Heat, Pacers, and 76ers) are all fighting to move as high as possible and most importantly get the home court.  The last tier in the East finds the Nets, Magic and long shot Wizards competing for the final two seeds.

Although this week found the pundits holding many teams in their original placement with some of the flailing of the upper-tier there might be big shifts on the horizon.

With that let’s see where the National pundits rank the OKC Thunder in week 19 of the NBA Power Rankings.

NBA.com – John Schuhmann:

One week after John Schuhmann moved the Thunder up to sixth he drops them two spots to eighth. Hey, it’s still his top 10 which is telling of how much he buys into OKC stock.

This week the stats man focuses on some key stats dissecting where the team excels and how their offense has emerged.

Here’s a portion of his excerpt from this week …

"On Tuesday in Chicago, the Thunder lost a 24-point lead. On Thursday against the Kings, they came back from 18 points down. They took two different paths to the same destination. That destination was clutch time, where they’re at their best. They shot 11-for-14 on clutch shots in the two games to improve to 27-13 (23-5 since late November) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes."

To read the rest of the above excerpt by Schuhmann and the entirety of his power ranking list click on the following link.

ESPN – Panel

ESPN’s panel: ESPN: Tim MacMahon |Andre’ Snellings | Royce Young | Bobby Marks, The Undefeated: Marc J. Spears

All season the panel has been loathe to push the OKC Thunder into their top 10. Then in a week where OKC suffered their worst loss of the season in Milwaukee inexplicably the panel not only kept them in the top 10 they moved them up to eighth!

Click this link for the full panel rankings.

"Other than the obvious shame that comes with a 47-point loss, what effect did the Bucks’ obliteration of the Thunder have? Oklahoma City’s average margin of victory went from 3.1 to 2.3. It was just one game, and it doesn’t detract from the Thunder’s 14-4 run in their past 18 games and their 31-12 record since Thanksgiving, the third-best record in that span. Still, that was some kind of beatdown. — Young"

Bleacher Report:

In spite of the loss to the Bucks, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report sees the bigger picture and cites some of the stats which make the Thunder a hard playoff out. Hughes holds the Thunder steady in ninth this week. 

A portion of his musings can be found in the excerpt below and the rest of it along with his full rankings list can be found by clicking this link.

"A 47-point loss has a way of skewing the stats, as Friday’s 133-86 implosion against Milwaukee dropped OKC’s February net rating from plus-6.2 to plus-0.9. This might be a rare case where a team’s record (7-3 for the month) speaks more accurately about its performance than its per-possession differential."

Sports Illustrated – The Crossover

Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated – The Crossover isn’t as smitten with the OKC Thunder to the same degree as his counterparts. Last week he placed them 11th and drops them to 12th in week 19.

After moving them down a spot he then sings the praises of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Shapiro’s full ranking list can be viewed via this link.

"Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s February ended with a 47-point loss at the hands of Giannis and the Bucks, but don’t let the blowout obscure what was another impressive month for the 21-year-old. SGA averaged 18.7 points per game in February, and he continued to improve his three-point stroke at 40.5%. Sam Presti landed seven potential first-round picks in the Paul George trade. Gilgeous-Alexander may be more valuable than all of them."

Hoops Habit:

Writer Phil Watson of Hoops Habit continues his holding pattern of placing the OKC Thunder in 12th.  Watson outlines the historical context of the Bucks loss and touches on some interesting stats about Steven Adams in the full excerpt.

For the full excerpt and the rest of Watson’s rankings click this link.

"The Oklahoma City Thunder had their five-game winning streak halted with emphasis on Friday, taking their worst loss since moving from Seattle in 2008 and matching the second-worst loss in franchise history with their 47-point pummeling at Milwaukee. It was the worst loss for the team since the SuperSonics absorbed a franchise-record 52-point drubbing at Denver March 17, 2008."

CBS Sports:

More from Thunderous Intentions

CBS Sports writer Colin Ward-Henninger gave the OKC Thunder his best ranking of the season last week placing them sixth. This week he drops them two spots to eighth.

Ward-Henniger correctly cites the absence of Gallinari as part of the issues the Thunder suffered in Milwaukee.

For Ward-Henniger’s full power ranking list click this link.

"The Thunder won close games against the Bulls and Kings before being blown out by the Bucks on national TV. OKC sorely missed Danilo Gallinari against Milwaukee — he averaged 24 points and made 9-of-18 3-pointers in the two wins this week."

That wraps up this week’s column for where the pundits ranked the OKC Thunder in week 19. The club’s high rank was eighth and the lowest rank is 12th. Four of he six lists rank the Thunder in their top 10 with the other two placing them 12th.

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